The Twilight of My Career

Sigh.

Okay, so I just have to come out with it.

I’m reading Twilight.

Yeah. The one with the sparkly vampires that that one chick wrote overnight which started the zombie apocalypse by turning its fans into mindless, shrieking drones. THAT Twilight. I, like the overwhelming majority of my professional peers, have hated that book and the series it spawned almost since it was first introduced to the public. My reasons have been varied and — I have felt — highly justified. They have included:

  1. Stephanie Meyer isn’t even a writer. She herself admitted that she just decided to write a book one day after having a dream. This alone drives dedicated, hardworking writers batguano nuts. Now, add to the fact that she became an overnight billionaire and superstar from it, and, well, she’s not my favorite person in the world. Call it jealously. I don’t really care. There it is.
  2. Vampires don’t sparkle. They just… they don’t. They’re evil, demonic creatures of the undead who literally suck human beings dry and don’t care that we have feelings. Or boobs, for that matter. The fact that they have not been proven to exist does not mean we can just go stomping all over their lore. Lore that has existed in numerous cultures all over the world for centuries, by the way. It’s the same to me as saying that Tinkerbell is a faerie (the Disney version; Barrie’s original is MUCH closer to the lore of the fae), or that Jesus was a dancing clown that did magic tricks. Just… no.
  3. From what I have been told by numerous people, Bella is the epitome of the very WORST role model a girl should EVER have. That whole “I can’t survive without a man” thing? Not that men are bad — I happen to be entirely and completely taken by my own wonderful husband — but to base your entire reason for living on ANY other human being is just asinine. Bella has no identity of her own past what Edward thinks, and it just gets worse from there, until, when she finally becomes a vampire, what is left of her already negligible personality is gone. Just… gone. Sucked (heh) up by a man who is now, almost literally, her entire Self. Now, it’s true that teenagers are VERY insecure — especially girls — but that only means that it’s MORE important that they don’t have a role model who bases EVERYTHING SHE IS AND CARES ABOUT solely on the opinions of another person. A person who, by the way, is ALWAYS putting her down — the perfect image of an emotional abuser. Just… no.
  4. The writing style, again I have been told, is awful. The reason? I assume #1 on this list. It makes sense, after all. And if there’s one thing I can’t read, it’s awful writing. It gives me a headache.
  5. I hate anything that’s that popular. Sorry. I just do.
  6. Edward is a stalker. That’s not romantic. That’s creepy. He’s also dead. And WAY older than Bella, who is a minor. Why is none of this creepy to any of the series crazy fans? Oh yes. Because they’re crazy.
  7. The movies remind me of the worst teeny-bopper idea of horror ever conceived  They’re like a cheerleader and a football player decided to write a soap opera about vampires.

Now you might have noticed a theme in all of these points. In case you didn’t, I’ll spell it out: none of them come from my own reading of the material. They are opinions based on the opinions of others: things that I have read or seen or heard second-hand. And no matter how justified they are or how real they feel to me, they aren’t educated — and they aren’t professional.

A couple of weeks ago two of my friends called me on that, and I had no choice but to answer.

They came to me with the words “we love you” (which worried me right away; you had to be there), and proceeded to handed me a stack of Meyers’ work. These are very brave friends, I’ll tell you that. But also caring and kind and wonderful. They are both fans of Twilight, who respect me as a writer and a friend and asked me the question I had hoped nobody would ever ask: “how can you say you hate it if you have never read it?”

Ugh. Dagger to the ego.

See, I call myself a professional. I take pride in both my own writing and my knowledge of the profession as a whole. But a professional does not hold opinions that aren’t their own. A professional does not jeer at another’s work just because they don’t like how it “smells”. And above all, a professional does not take the words of rumor — nor the opinions of others — as undeniable fact.

And dammit, I don’t just call myself a professional. I am a professional. So I have begun to read Twilight of my own accord and thus form my own, educated, professional opinion.

I have also decided to document this adventure in my blog, chapter-by-chapter. I will try to be as unbiased as possible, though I am human and therefore fallible. That said, to try and counteract this inescapable fallacy, I will  give a list of bad AND good thoughts as I go through each chapter. I will also give a tally of points between these, in the end comparing the two in order to make a final judgement that is as unbiased as possible.

And so begins my newest adventure…

My thoughts on Twilight Chapter 1:  First Sight

The Good:

  • Meyers’ writing style is easy to read. I found myself breezing through the first chapter like a hot knife through butter. As a children’s writer especially, I know that it is far easier to write wordy, flowery prose than it is to truly engage a reader who might have an entirely different thought processes than you. One point for positive.
  • The narrative voice of Bella is convincing as an uncomfortable, awkward teenager who is trying to find her way in the world. I bought her as a high-school girl hook, line and sinker. Another point for positive.
  • Bella is relatable. I can see why so many teenage girls fell instantly in love with these books, seeing themselves in Bella’s shoes as easily as trough a mirror. Point three.
  • The storyline begins interestingly, and the cliffhanger at the end of chapter 1 is one I can respect as a fellow writer. If I didn’t already know from its huge commercialism that Edward was a vampire, I’d be very curious to know why he reacted like he did to Bella. Meyers fulfilled a very important writers’ mantra here: keep the reader turning pages. Another point for positive.
  • I feel the need to point out a particular passage I enjoyed: “Inside the truck, it was nice and dry. Either Billy or Charlie had obviously cleaned it up, but the tan upholstered seats still smelled faintly of tobacco, gasoline and peppermint.” (Meyers 12) I liked this description because it brought to mind the exact smell of so many old trucks I grew up riding in here in the Pacific Northwest. I’ll admit: it made me smile. One more point for positive.

The Bad:

  • As a denizine of Washington, I wasn’t thrilled by Bella’s hatred of my beloved state. It not only painted her as someone I personally could not connect with, but also as a whiny, superficial brat. One point against.
  • Meyer describes everything. I’m all for description. Heck, I love Anne Rice and J.R.R. Tolkien, the King and Queen of description! But Meyers’ descriptions border on (and sometimes completely pass), redundancy. Here is one great example of what I mean: “Every one of them was chalky pale, the palest of all the students living in this sunless town. Paler than me, the albino.” (Meyers 18) Okay, so they’re pale. That’s enough with the use of the word — “… I glanced sideways at the beautiful boy, who was looking at his tray now and picking apart a bagel with long, pale fingers.” (Meyers 20) … pale. Ugh. Something tells me this word in particular will haunt the rest of my reading of this book, but Meyers seems to have a thing for redundant description overall, “pale” notwithstanding. And speaking of redundancy…
  • Meyers doesn’t seem to understand the reason thesauri exist. The repetition of same words within a few sentences drives me entirely nuts, and she does this often. Example: “In the Olympic Peninsula of Northwest Washington State, a small town named Forks exists under a near-constant cover of clouds. It rains in this inconsequential town more than any other place in the United States of America. It was from this town and its gloomy, omnipresent shade that my mother escaped with me when I was only a few months old.” (Meyers 3) Okay. We now thoroughly and without a doubt know that Forks is a town. Use the word one more time and I’m going to go entirely bonkers! Also, it’s depressing. We get that. Move on. This is not the only time Meyers does this, by the way. It’s consistent. One more point against.

The Conclusion:

Five points positive, three points negative. Meyers is off to a good start! Of course we haven’t started on the whole “vampire” thing just yet, so we’ll see…

Works Cited

Meyers, Stephanie. Twilight. New York: Little Brown & Company, 2005. Print.

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3 Responses to “The Twilight of My Career”

  1. I’m not sure about the need for an intervention, but I do agree that writers can learn things from reading very successful books. That said, I probably won’t ever read Twilight or its derivative, 50 Shades. I’m just not into vampires and porn.

  2. “The repetition of same words within a few sentences drives me entirely nuts, and she does this often. ”

    That’s why I couldn’t get past the first chapter. I’ve put down other books for the same sin.

    Also her constantly misplacing modifiers made me cringe. Why were the windows down at the airport when you drove there?

    Those things totally knocked me out of the book and I gave it away long before the movies came into existence. Life is too short and there are too many well written books to waste my precious leisure novel reading time on bad writing. (I do that with my comic book hobby.)

  3. […] morganmarshallworlds Worlds to Explore « The Twilight of My Career […]

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